The family of a man reported missing on his sailboat in the Marlborough Sounds are relieved he is alive.
Picton police officers found American sailor Sean D'Epagnier on board his sailboat Alexandra in Waikawa Bay about 8pm on Saturday.
Family members in North Carolina reported the 26-year-old missing to the United States embassy late last week after Mr D'Epagnier had failed to contact them since May when he was in Motueka.
Speaking from her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, Deborah D'Epagnier said her son did not have internet access or a cellphone on board his 27-foot Bristol sailboat.
She and Mr D'Epagnier's father, Bill, had become increasingly concerned through June and July about their son's welfare on his 40-year-old sailboat during the New Zealand winter.
It is believed his sister contacted the American Embassy which filed a missing person report and sparked the police search.
"The police were a great help and we're just so glad to know he's fine."
When found, Mr D'Epagnier told police he was unaware his family had reported him missing and he had been sailing around the Marlborough Sounds.
The family were largely kept in the dark about his travel plans from the start and were only told of his intention to voyage around New Zealand when he "popped up" in American Samoa after sailing there from California, they said.
He arrived on his sailboat in New Zealand in November.
New Zealand police spokeswoman Victoria Evans said police around the country were asked to keep an eye out for Mr D'Epagnier and his boat after the embassy told the national police headquarters that he was missing.
Nelson and Picton police had checked popular bays around the Marlborough and Tasman regions as part of the search, which led to the boat being spotted in Waikawa Bay.
- The Marlborough Express
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